Places I sleep

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Winburg Hotel, Orange Free State. Est. 1867. Think the decor could be circa then too. This bedspread looks like a cold pool of blood. Smudge kept a watchful eye, but not really. I slept here because I had to: my eyes were gritty after 11 hours on the road. I dreamt Stephen King dreams, and also that all my teeth fell out. Cheque please.

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Flapper Girl

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Boasting an unenviable teaspoon- sized brain and flightless plumage, this oversized and ornery fowl has long been a much-parodied beast of burden. Case in point: ostrich-back riding – hilarious to witness. And yet, at one time, ostriches were the golden goose of South Africa, and one of the reasons we arrived on the global map.
The great ostrich feather boom began around 1870 and at its height, there were more than 750 000 domesticated ostriches in the Klein Karoo, the feathers of which were exported at the rate of around 450 000kg per year. Max Rose,
a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant, made an enormous ostrich fortune in Oudtshoorn. He also lost it all when World War I detonated and austerity measures meant London’s ladies had to abandon their fashionable flights of fancy and adopt
a more proletariat uniform. Ruined ostrich fortune mansions still dot the ostrich capital today, having been slowly reclaimed by the dry, hard earth.

Extract from a story I wrote on the ostrich meat industry for Food & Home Entertaining.